The ancient Sanskrit texts, from Brahma and Skanda Purana, contain prescriptions for the celebration of twelve festivals in the temple of Jagannatha throughout the year. These twelve festivals, commonly called “dvadasa yatras”.
Major Festivals in Jagannath Temple:
Ratha Yatra (moving by chariot)
Parsva Parivartana (changing of sides)
Pravarana (covering the body)
Damanaka Bhanjana (breaking of Damanaka plant)
Aksaya Trtiya & Chandan yatra
In addition to this, another festival called “Neeladri Mahodaya” known as the temple froyadasha yatra. There is a popular saying “Thirteen festivals are in twelve months”.
Major Festivals in Jagannath Temple:
Celebrated on the day of the new moon of Sravana, the gold and the precious stones that Chita adorned in the three main deities. “Chita” is an ornament for the forehead. This ornament is removed from the deities on the night of Snana Yatra after the deities return to the temple. The Chita are again dressed for this occasion.
Badi Nrusimha Bije:
Celebrated on the 11th day of the brilliant fortnight of Sravana, the moving deity Badi Nrusimha (procession deity) visits four ashrams in the town. On this occasion, special rites are performed in the ashrama.
Jhulan Yatra is celebrated for seven days from Shravana Shukla Dashami in Pratipada. Representative images Madan Mohana, Rama, Krushna, Shreedevi and Bhudevi are placed on a swing at Mukti Mandapa (Jullana Mandapa).
On the day of the full moon, ie Jhulan Purnima or “Gamha Purnima”, the birth day of the birth of Sre Balabhadra is celebrated.
On the fifth day of the dark fortnight of Bhadraba, the three presiding deities wear “Rahurekha” a gold ornament for the forehead and the face. On the night of Snana Purnima, after the deities have returned to the temple, this ornament is removed from the deities and re-adorned on the aforementioned date.
Krishna Janmashtami and other Ceremonies:
Lord Sri Krishna’s birthday is celebrated on the eighth day of the dark fortnight of Bhadraba. The next day, Nandostava is observed in the temple. Certain ceremonies related to Sri Krishna Lila, such as Banabhoji, Kolibika, Bakasura, Kaliyadalan, Pralambasura badha, are celebrated for a few days.
On the new moon day of Bhadraba. A special bhoga called “Saptapuri bhoga” is ceremoniously brought back from the “roshaghar” with Sakala dhupa to the sanctuary and is offered to the deities by the Pujapandas according to “Sodhasha Upachara”.
On the 4th day of the bright fortnight of Bhadraba, special rites are performed in the Bata Ganesh Temple.
On the 5th day of the bright fortnight of Bhadraba. The representive image of Shreedevi visits Markandeswar temple and some special rites is performed there.
On the 8th day of the bright fortnight of Bhadraba. Lord Shree Sudarshan adorned with ornaments visits the four ashramas of the Rishis and Yameswar temple. Some special rites are done in Yameswar temple on the occasion.
On the 12th day of the bright fortnight of Bhadraba. Birth day ritual of Lord Baman is performed in the temple.
On the 14th day of the bright fortnight of Bhadraba. A special rites is performed in the Ananta Basudev temple by a Pujapanda sevak and he reads Ananta brata katha (The story of Ananta brata)
Indra Govinda Puja:
On the full moon day of Bhadraba. The image of Dolagovinda appears besides the Badachhata Matha in a ceremonial procession. ‘Sitala bhoga’ is offered. It is followed by ‘Bandapana’ to Indra, Chandra and Govinda by Bhitarchha Mohapatra sevak.
Sahasra Kumbha Abhiseka:
On the 8th day of dark fortnight of Ashwina, abhiseka of Goddess Durga image is done. From this day onwards Shola Puja (Puja for sixteen days) of Goddess Vimala is performed.
On the 10th day of bright fortnight of Ashwina, the Raja Besha of Sri Jagannatha takes place on this day and the Ayudha (weapons) of the Lords are worshipped.
On the full moon day of Ashwina. Lord Shree Sudarshana visit four ashramas. After Badasinghara dhupa, the Pujapanda, Patimohapatra and Mudirasta gamble, play the games of dice and ‘cowrie’ again under the Ratnasinghashana.
Special rites are performed on this day. The deities are adorned with six pieces of ornaments and new clothes after ‘Sarbanga’ rites.
Special rites such as ‘Prasada Lagi’, ‘Bandapana’ adorned with ornaments and bhoga on this festival occasion are performed.
Margasira Krushna Astami. The deities put on new clothes and smeared with sandal paste ‘Mangalarpana’ for three deities is done after the mid-day dhupa.
Deep Danna and Pitru Shraddha:
Margasira Krushna Chaturdashi, Amabasya and Shukla Pratipada. During these three days Shree Jagannatha offers special bhoga & Lamps to his Pitrupurusha (ancestors) like Nanda, Vasudeva,and Dasaratha and also to the king Indradyumna.
Margasira Purnima (Pandu Purnima):
The image of Nrusimha visits four ashramas and special rites are performed there.
During the month of Dhanu Sankranti to day before Makara Sankranti i.e. for a period of one month, special bhoga known as ‘Pahili Bhoga’ is offered along with Ballava bhoga in the morning.
Bakula Amabasya (Posha Amabasya):
On this day after the morning dhupa is over ‘Baula gaintha’ (a kind of porridge mixed with the mango blossoms) is offered to the Lord.
Falls on 5th day of the bright fortnight of Magha. The deities wear modified winter garments.
Magha Shukla Saptami. On this day after the evening dhupa, special rites and ‘Bandapana’ are done in the Surya Temple (Sun God).
Magha Shukla Ekadasi. Special rites such as ‘Prasad Lagi’, ‘Bandapana’, adornment of specific ornaments and special Bhogas are offered to the deities.
On this day, Gaja Uddharana Besha of Shree Jagannatha is observed after the mid-day dhupa.
Phalguna Krushna Chaturdashi. On this day Shree Lokanatha, the custodian of ‘Ratnabhandara’ (treasure house) of Shreemandira goes to the Shree Lokanath Temple. There ‘Hari-Hara Bheta’, Bhoga and Bandapana are performed.
Chaitra Krushna Pratipada. On this day, the images of Shreedevi, Bhudevi and Dolagobinda proceed to the Narendra Tank. The special rites such as Prasada lagi, Sheetala bhoga and Bandapana followed by Chamar alata are observed.
Chaitra Shukla Sasthi. A special rite is performed in the Surya Temple in the inner compound.
This ritual is observed on Chaitra Shukla Astami. Special rite is performed in the Ishaneswara temple in the outer compound of the temple.
Celebrated on the 9th day of the bright fortnight of Chaitra the birth day ritual of Lord Rama is performed. From this day onwards Ramalila is performed.
Damanaka Chori (Dayanalagi):
Celebrated on Chaitra Shukla trayodashi & chaturdashi. The representative deities Rama and Krushna are taken in a procession to Jagannatha Ballava Matha, where the deities pick up their dear ‘dayana’ leaves from the Matha garden and on the 14th day, the leaves are offered to the Lords.
Maha Vishuva Sankranti (Pana Sankranti):
The birth day rituals of Mahaveer (Hanuman) is performed in the temple as well as in Jagannatha Ballav Matha. Specific Bhoga and Bandapana rites are done in the Matha.
Celebrated on the 14th day of the bright fortnight of Baisakha. Nrusimha Janma niti or ritual is performed in the temple. The image of Lord Nrusimha is taken to Jagannatha Ballava Matha, where special rites are performed.
Celebrated on the 6th day of the bright fortnight of Jyestha. The special rites of Pancha Mahadeva are performed along with Dolagobinda in the temple.
Celebrated on the 10th day of the bright fortnight of Jyestha. Rajendraviseka (coronation) of MadanMohana is performed on the eve of Rukmini Vivaha ceremony.
Rukmini Haran & Vivaha Ceremony:
Celebrated on the 11th day of the bright fortnight of Jyestha. The marriage ceremony of MadanMohana and Rukmini (Shreedevi) is performed.
Celebrated on the 12th day i.e. the next day of Rukmini Vivaha Ceremony, certain rites are performed in the temple. The images of Madan Mohana and Shreedevi visit Srinahar in a ceremonial procession. The Gajapati Maharaja himself accords the bride and bridegroom a warm reception in the palace.